Jul 19, 2022 - News

Plan to arm some school employees draws criticism

A gun with school pencils
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Teacher and gun safety organizations are criticizing the Cobb County Board of Education's decision to allow non-police officer employees to carry weapons on campus.

The policy, which was approved Thursday, allows the district to hire people who are not certified by the Georgia Peace Officers Standards and Training Council to possess firearms.

  • It does not allow educators and other employees assigned to classroom supervision to carry weapons.

What they're saying: The Georgia Association of Educators "does not believe that anyone on campus other than properly trained law enforcement should possess weapons," president Lisa Morgan told Axios.

Cobb’s decision is part of a larger trend of districts trying different tactics to deal with the problem of gun violence spilling over into their schools, Morgan said.

  • "But the solution is not going to be found within our schools," she told Axios. "The solution really is a community solution to the problem of violence."

The other side: Georgia Carry executive director Jerry Henry told Axios that "it's about time" that another school district took the step of arming employees.

  • Georgia Carry, which touts itself as a "no-compromise voice" of gun owners, has been supportive of legislation that expands where people can carry firearms.

Henry also called on districts to train teachers on first aid procedures to help anyone who suffers a gunshot wound.

  • He believes having an armed person inside a school will help prevent tragedies like Uvalde, Texas, where arriving officers waited more than 70 minutes to take out the gunman.
  • "The quicker you approach them the quicker it's over with," he said.

Yes, but: Courtney Spriggs, chapter lead for Georgia Moms Demand Action, told Axios in a statement that preventing firearms from entering schools is what will stop gun violence in classrooms.

Spriggs said more guns on campus raise the risk of accidental discharge or a firearm ending up in the wrong hands.

  • "If school boards do choose to hire armed security, they must carefully consider the precautions and implementation necessary to mitigate the associated risks," she said. "The last thing we need in our children’s schools are unqualified and untrained armed individuals."

Of note: Cobb is the only school district in metro Atlanta to enact such a policy, which was enabled by state legislation that passed in 2014. Three other Georgia school districts — Fannin, Gordon and Laurens — have passed similar policies.

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